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GENUS
OPUNTIA


Prickly Pear Cactus
KingdomPlantae
SubkingdomTracheobionta
PhylumMagnoliophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
SubclassCaryophyllidae
OrderCaryophyllales
FamilyCactaceae
GenusOpuntia

Prickly pear cactus represent about a dozen species of the Opuntia genus (Family Cactaceae) in the North American deserts. All have flat, fleshy pads that look like large leaves. The pads are actually modified branches or stems that serve several functions -- water storage, photosynthesis and flower production. Chollas are also members of the Opuntia genus but have cylindrical, jointed stems rather than flat pads.

http://www.desertusa.com/magoct97/oct_pa/du_prkpear.html